on quitting online dating

“You should get on Tinder,” a well-intentioned friend instructed me over lunch. I made a face at him.

“No,” he continued. “It’s not a hookup site for singles in their 40s. That’s just how the younger kids use it.”

I was dubious, but he added stories about two friends who’d found significant others through the app. Why not try it?

You’ve seen the pictorial evidence of the manliness awaiting me. Men with bloodied faces cuddling dogs smaller than my cats. Men in costume, men in the nude, car selfies, gym shots. And the written part of the test wasn’t much better. “Looking for my partner in crime” was maybe the most-used cliche.  Married dudes were rampant. Open marriages more common than I knew.

When I “connected” six weeks ago with a tall, built man of European descent who liked to travel, surf and do triathlons, I was mildly interested. Our initial conversation focused around our favorite beaches: Costa Rica for him, Hawaii for me. We talked about wines, old world versus new.

“Perhaps I can take you out for a drink,” he suggested over Tinder text. I canceled the initial plans because my work load was too heavy. He was persistent and followed up. We had our first date on Wednesday last week.

I’ve been more excited about doctor’s appointments, honestly. Our date was capping off a busy day. I put two seconds of thought into my outfit. But when he walked in the door of the restaurant, we had immediate chemistry. We didn’t stop talking all night. It was refreshing. He asked to see me again, so we went out Friday. Saw each other the next night. Had dinner again on Wednesday, one week after the first date. I will admit there was a sleepover.

Then Friday morning I received this text message: Chelsea, you are smart and sexy but not who I’m looking for right now.

Hmm. Something didn’t feel right. My thoughts drifted back to the night before when my best friend had asked to see a picture of him. I was loathe to log on to Tinder, so we did a google search. He had zero online footprint. I was too deep in afterglow to be concerned at the time, but with greater thought after his dismissive text, I clearly recalled a conversation he initiated about how annoying it is when strangers “link in” with you. I mentioned I rarely use Facebook, but he said it’s good for communicating with friends abroad. Yet, the name he’d given me had no LinkedIn profile, no Facebook page. No “our team” presence for the software company he said he worked for. I wish my spidey senses had kicked in when I noticed a piece of mail on his counter addressed to a name that wasn’t his. I even glanced at it a few times, but hey, I accidentally get mail for my neighbors sometimes. Now I wonder if the sparsely furnished and undecorated apartment he brought me too is even his. The name he shared obviously is not.

I dodged a bullet. I thought I was protecting myself by texting my friends his full name and address, but he still could have been a serial killer or a rapist. Luckily, he was just a jerk, out for one thing. I deleted my Tinder profile.

I had thought nothing was harder than being set up on a date by a mutual friend with a vested interest in the outcome, but I’m reconsidering that position. From this day forward, I’m only dating men who come with a personal reference.

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why your friends should have final approval of your online dating profile picture

I have to admit that one of my favorite new pastimes is taking screenshots of potential matches that come across my online dating feed and sharing them with girlfriends. I do this partly to mock but mostly to question: why on earth would a person choose this particular photo as the critical first impression shot?

For example, in this adorable holiday card worthy picture, who is Ben? Gentleman on the right? Gentleman on the left? Baby in the middle?

Will the eligible bachelor please raise a hand?
Will the eligible bachelor please raise a hand?

Perhaps if a friend with a discerning eye had been consulted, this confusion never would have arose, and Ben and I would be perfectly paired. A number of group shots make it into people’s dating profiles, rendering the subject of the profile highly unidentifiable.

One of my favorite photos is the non-photo. I suppose I should not judge a book by its cover, but we are talking about the internet. It is more honest than offering a doctored or dated photo, but please, no photo draws an automatic decline from me.

Really, what do you look like?

It boggles my mind how many deletable photos are posted. Like when you drop the phone as you are about to take a picture and half your face ends up cut off or the image turns out blurry. I didn’t crop this photo, readers. I can only presume this dude does not have friends to tell him he’s not putting his best side forward.

How does the camera function work anyway?

The gentleman below loves a good rugby match, and I applaud him for being upfront about his passion for the brutal sport. But he could have gotten his point across without leading with a bloody picture. If you are related to this man, please tell him to save this photo for the third date.

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Your friends can also be there to help stop you from posting underwear photos and dark/upside side down photos. A consultation might result in the straightening of your headphones or someone near and dear telling you it’s a very bad idea to grab your junk for a photo.

"Help me"

Friends also don’t let friends post pictures that contour their hairy backs:

Just say no to posting pictures like this...
Just say no to posting pictures like this…

And last but not least, a true friend would never let you post this pronouncement. I mean geez… leave a little to the imagination, please.

I have no wordsWe can’t all have photographer friends to make us look gorgeous, but with today’s technology, it doesn’t take much effort to look good. If you’re unsure of a photo, don’t post it. And whatever you do, don’t forget to include the witty banter.

try a little tinderness

A man, his pool and his pug
A man, his pool and his pug
Broad shoulders. Itty bitty man shorts.

I tend to come to Internet trends late. I initially rejected Facebook and more recently, divorced the site. I never followed a blog until I after I started my own. I avoided Twitter as long as I could, and I’m a self-diagnosed Instagram stalker, just posting enough photos to be legit but preferring to ogle at other people’s meals, outfits and sunsets.

“Try online dating,” my friends pushed. Love? Like I’m going to find that on the World Wide Web. But they coaxed, and I tested the waters.

Match.com was a disaster. Not only did I go on zero dates, but their algorithm is broken because I kept getting paired with men whose profiles declared my single biggest deal breaker: wants kids, definitely. But the final subscription-canceling straw came when one of my daily matches, the 10-12 carefully selected true love potentials I was thoughtfully sent everyday, was a 62-year old school bus driver.

“Hinge is the way to go,” a twentysomething told me. It sounded kind of dirty, but I gave it a go. I met a guy, respectable enough. Hinging on the boring side. We dabbled in dating before I admitted to myself we had no spark.

Of course, everyone brings up Tinder. But why would I sign up for the hook up site? That’s certainly not what I want, and if it were, I’d find other ways to meet eligible men.

“Tinder is different for people in their 40s,” I was assured. “I know a woman who met her boyfriend on Tinder,” one guy friend told me.

Fueled by wine and boredom, the other day, I joined. It literally took me all of 30 seconds to set up my account. Unlike Match and other dating sites, there is no long profile page to fill out. Just add some pictures and a 400-character description and voila. Immediately, I had hundreds of “matches” to swipe right or left. It took time to get the hang of it. I sadly left swiped the man pictured in front of his extensive wine cellar and my friend accidentally right swiped someone unacceptable who instantly became a match, leading to scrambling and un-matching.

I don’t think it’s 100 percent true that 40-somethings use Tinder for “real” dating, as evidenced by some of the profile photos I’ve seen. Readers, Nude Photo Exhibit A:

Lower half of photo cropped to protect the innocent.

The lack of a character description is telling. I’ve left swiped some handsome guys because they wrote nothing about themselves and I just don’t go for illiterate men. Nor am I interested in a “poly” relationship or to be an out-of-towner’s fling. I mean, it’s one thing if we meet at happy hour at Proof, but quite another if I have to prearrange sex on my iPhone.

I get it… you have to kiss a lot of frogs. And then maybe you find a prince. And he owns a hot tub.

Hot tub time machine
Hot tub time machine